Impact on Continental, United Merger at RIC

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Changes could soon be on the horizon at Richmond International Airport, following the expected merger between Continental Airlines and United. Both fly out of RIC and we checked in to see what changes could happen.

If history is any indication, the potential merger between Continental Airlines and United will have an impact here at Richmond International Airport. And, passengers have some mixed feelings about that.

Lindsey Bryant is all packed, booked, and checked in for her Continental flight to Boston. Now, she's hoping that in the coming months getting there will be easier when the two airlines will likely become one.

"Since they both have plenty of planes, maybe more flights to more destinations, more options for people in regards to flights and destinations," said Bryant.

Destinations: maybe. But more flights: unlikely. Troy Bell with RIC has seen at least 3 mergers at the airport in the last decade and one constant has remained, "what it's generally not lead to is an expansion of service."

In fact, the two airlines fly to five hubs. Right now, Bell is worried some flights to Cleveland may be in jeopardy.

"Shrinking at least. We've seen with the Delta, Northwest merger, the number of lights to Cincinnati decreased," added Bell.

But on the bright side the airport has been trying to get flyers a destination out west and with this merger, that could happen.

"United is very strong to the west. Strong hub in Denver and the west coast with San Francisco and Los Angeles. So, yet again, we are hopefully for better access out west," said Bell.

That's welcome news for Marcie Perryman, since most of her family lives out west.

"We've recently been locked into certain times to fly out of Richmond to the west coast at a certain time, so this would give us more flexibility," said Perryman.

But that's about the only positive she sees out of the merger. She, like other travelers, are concerned prices may go up before boarding their next flight.

In the short term, you likely won't see any changes at the airport. But, several months down the road things could be a whole lot different.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.